Here we are heading our way into the third month of the year in the north country and most of the bass anglers are really starting to notice the longer days and Sun rising in the afternoon sky.
Even in years like this when the local lakes have been frozen for months, feeling the increasing warmth of the Sun turns our thoughts to the approach of ice-out and gearing up for some early spring bass fishing action.
It has been a long and cold winter after-all!
So as you head out into the shed and start to dig-out your rods and reels along with all those boxes filled with your favorite bass catching baits, here are some success tips to help keep you in-tune with the changes at hand.
Location, Location, Location …
And when searching for ice-out and early spring bass, it really is about location.
Though most of us will take what we can get when it comes to accessing bodies of water, early season bass fishing success is definitely increased on smaller bodies of water since they are often more protected and water temps rise fairly rapidly.
With water temperatures still in the 30’s and 40’s, most fish (including bass) will often seek out warming sections of the lake or pond. Since the Sun is still rising in the southern sky, coves and cuts on the northern shore (especially those with darker bottoms) offering protection from the wind are often bass magnets.
Add in rocks, stumps, logs and other types of solid cover and the magnetic character increases greatly!
Here is one of my favorite ice-out/early spring bass fishing haunts with several keys areas highlighted with white arrows:
Once you’ve located areas with these key fish-attracting elements, it’s time to turn your attention to selecting the right kind of bass tackle for ice-out conditions.
What’s in Your Early Spring Bassing Arsenal?
In many of the waters I fish just after ice-out, the water is pretty clear and shallow vegetation almost non-existent. Fortunately this means our rod and reel selection can tend to outfits that can handle fairly light lines (no more than 10 lb. test with 8 lb. often the norm for me). A medium action spinning or even lighter baitcasting combo can be just what the doctor ordered this time of year.
As far as lure selection goes, I usually keep things fairly basic with a small to medium sized selection of the following baits:
- Hard-baits including shallow to deep running crankbaits, lip-less crankbaits and jerkbaits, mainly in color patterns matching local minnow forage (though I always include some gold patterns in my personal arsenal);
- Single spin spinnerbaits and in-line spinners (matching color patterns again to local forage and water clarity conditions);
- Hair jigs and dressings (both plastic and pork); &
- 4″ and 5″ stickbaits (like the Yamamoto Senko) in both light and darker hues with 2/0 and 3/0 EWG worm hooks (for Texas Rig) and Octopus hooks to rig them wacky-style.
This assortment of baits will let you cover most ice-out and early spring bass fishing situations and provide plenty of early bass catching action to boot!